13 May 2022.
THE NORTHMAN *
This is the sort of film that makes one yearn for censorship, as far as both violence and art are concerned. Old Shakespeare must be twirling around in his grave, for his Hamlet seems to be the leitmotif of this dark and bloody film. Based in ancient Viking times, the film features a prince (Alexander Skarsgard) – named Amleth! – who is on a vengeful crusade to murder his uncle who killed his father and married his mother, the Queen (Nicole Kidman). Oh dear…
There is much muscle and many gloomy nights, as well as witches and unending gruesome ways to torture and kill, and it goes on for almost two and a half hours. If that’s your thing, this might be your film. There’s also some dialogue that tries to be deep and Bardish, but is so contrived and the acting so overdone that it’s cringeworthy.
Directed by Robert Eggers, who is into horror films (“The Witch”) and has become the critics’ darling since his torturous “The Lighthouse”, the film has gotten incredibly high marks in most reviews. So I am once again going against the current – because of all the tiresome hatred, violence and artistic pretension.
COMPÉTITION OFFICIELLE *** (vo Spanish)
What a pair – Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas – two beauties with undisputed talents. And it’s not even an Almadovar film. This Spanish tale about the making of a film and the ego-trips of the rich, and the stars of cinema, is a biting satire concerning a flavor-of-the-moment female director (Cruz) and her two actors – one, a flamboyant playboy movie star (Banderas), and the other, a supposedly intellectual theatre actor (Oscar Martinez), too sure of his genius.
Their moods, demands, jealousies and at times hysterical outbursts in a stark, modernistic setting make for a dizzying yarn about the clash of super egos. Strangely, the ending seems to hark back to a plagiarism episode in Woody Allen’s, “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger” from 2010.
UNE HISTOIRE PROVISOIRE ***
Most of this Swiss film by Romed Wyder takes place in an Airbnb in Geneva. The grandson of the owners is using it since he has broken up with his girlfriend. He also broke his leg as he walked out on her. Feeling blue and immobilised, he wants to be left alone, but a new tenant from Iran has just moved in, a discreet young woman going through her own emotional problems. Bothered at first by this intrusion, he slowly comes to appreciate her subtlety. And then another girl moves in for a bit, a boisterous American tourist who becomes a sort of catalyst between them.
Wyder balances these provisional relationships with great delicacy and tact, opening up this minimalist story towards deeper possibilities. The acting is quiet but spot-on, especially by the Iranian actress, Pooneh Hajimohammadi. Here is a fine huis clos to make you ponder on the similarities and differences of cultures.
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Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.